The execution of the 24-year-old was filmed and sent to a Nigerian news platform. Hauwa Liman had been kidnapped from the refugee center where she was working with two other medical workers in Borno state last March.
Hauwa Mohammed Liman worked in a hospital supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) when she was abducted with Alice Loksha, a nurse who worked in a center supported by UNICEF last March.
Head of the ICRC Peter Maurer had issued an appeal for her life to be spared:
Their ICRC colleague Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa was killed by her abductors, believed to be a splinter group from Boko Haram, in September.
"These women were providing essential and life-saving services to thousands of people, displaced and resident alike," the ICRC said. After the latest deadline from the kidnappers passed, the ICRC has heard reports of the execution but was unable to confirm them.
In an emailed statement on Monday, the Nigerian government confirmed the killing, and reacted to criticism that it had not done enough to save the victims by saying: "the Federal Government did all within its powers to save her life."
Nigeria's online news platform The Cable reported that it had been sent the images of Hauwa's killing, and a statement from a terrorist group. It claimed both women were apostates because they worked for the Red Cross and Unicef.
Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old school student who refused to convert to Islam, was taken from her school in Dapchi in a separate abduction incident in February.
"I feel so embarrassed and surprised that the government couldn't do anything to rescue them," one man in Nigeria told DW.
Rann center for refugees
Patricia Danzi, Director of ICRC Operations in Africa, had appealed for the safe release of the aid workers: "Like all those abducted, they are not part of any fight."
The ICRC workers had been in the north east of Nigeria in the town of Rann where a military outpost had given some protection to the 80,000 refugees refugees displaced by the 9-year-old conflict and violence of the Islamist insurgency.
Despite a military presence in the region, Islamist extremist groups have continued to carry out attacks on villages and military officials.
In 2017, an aerial strike on Rann led to more than a hundred casualties. At the time, the UNHCR's Filippo Grandi called for a "full accounting" of "a truly catastrophic event":
jm/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)